Round One Chess Tournament
Round One Chess Tournament

Round One Overview by James Harrison

I was very excited for the start of our summer tournament, especially with so many new players involved. The first round didn’t disappoint and had a bit of everything: good chess, blunders, drama, excitement and crazy sacrifices. I hope that everyone had fun and also learnt something from their games. I’ll also be looking over them in the Improvers’ Class next Monday from 6:30pm, so don’t miss the opportunity to get some feedback and improve your game before Round 2! Anyway, what follows is a summary of the games. There’s no way to do justice to a chess game just with words, but hopefully you get at least a flavour.
On board 1 I played Chester, who seemed a bit nervy and didn’t really settle into the game. I played aggressively from the start and made early threats. He made a mistake which allowed me to trade queens and win a pawn, and unfortunately his position couldn’t be salvaged after that. He valiantly played on for quite a few moves, but I was very mean and kept attacking before he had time to organise a counterattack.
I don’t have the moves for board 2, but I believe Harry won a piece and was able to convert.
Board 3 saw the battle of the Birches, with Darren up against Cara. Cara chose an unusual opening and was down a pawn for questionable compensation, although the game was still in the balance throughout the opening and early middlegame. The critical moment game when Darren opened up the centre with e4, which raised the stakes for the next few moves. It turned out to be a good decision, with White’s pieces springing to life and doing the damage. Darren won a piece and his advantage snowballed from there. (Game below)
Board 4 was my favourite game of the round, with John Martin winning a good battle against Ashley. The opening was very well played by both sides, and when the first fireworks happened (John temporarily sacrificed a piece to win it back), they both navigated them correctly. A few moves later John sacrificed his bishop for a direct attack on Ashley’s king. I believe it wasn’t  completely sound, but it was enterprising and certainly in the right spirit. Ashley then had chances to win (by stopping the attack and holding onto the extra piece) but couldn’t find the precise moves. The attack continued and in the end White’s king walked up the board into checkmate.
On board 5 William won against Henry with the black pieces. The opening was of high quality from both sides, until white allowed a check on the e-file and had to retreat his bishop to a bad square to block. Will took the initiative and looked like he would win a pawn, but Harry found a move he had overlooked which kept the material balance. However a few moves later Harry was not so lucky and got his queen and knight lined up in a nasty pin. There was no way out of it and the knight was lost. Sadly for Henry, Will’s conversion from then on was spotless and he never looked like giving away the advantage.
Last but certainly not least, Jake overcame Aaron on board 6, in the most dramatic game of the round. The opening was a quiet Italian game and the first 20 moves represented the calm before the storm. Jake then found a good plan of pushing his queen pawn forward to damage White’s centre, and Aaron immediately felt the pressure. He played a loose move which allowed Black to fork his king and rook. For about the next 10 moves Jake was comfortably up a rook, but he then make the suspicious decision to sacrifice his knight. It still looked like he had too much material, but then it was his turn to blunder. Aaron made no mistake in winning the Rook back with a nice little sequence, and then the position was very unclear with Jake having four pawns versus his knight. Either player could have won, with Jake hoping to queen the pawns, and Aaron playing for the attack on the king. Finally there was a decisive blunder from Aaron as he put his king on the wrong square, which allowed another fork, this time king and knight. With the knight gone Jake had a clear four extra pawns which was way too many.
I hope everyone is as excited as I am for Round 2, which will be at 8pm next Monday. We’ll see the debuts of some of the top seeds, including first team regular Adrian.

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